House-to-house soul-winning visitation has been the main emphasis in the twenty-year history of the Emmanuel Baptist Church. Dr. and Mrs. Tom Malone began the church in a converted beer tavern, nearly twenty years ago and in these two decades souls have been saved and baptized and have united with the church every Sunday.
The church now numbers over 3,000 members, nearly all of whom are active. These people were won to Christ mainly by house-to-house visitation. This group, of course, does not include the several thousand who have been saved, baptized and united with the church from all these years and have moved to other communities and have gone out into the Lord's work. Actually some 6,000 members have been received into the Emmanuel Baptist Church through the visitation program.
In addition to this, seven other churches have been started within a 15-mile radius of the city of Pontiac. The Emmanuel Baptist Church has fostered these churches, nursed them along until all are full-time, independent, soul-winning churches. Every Sunday more than 2,000 people are in attendance in Sunday school in these churches plus some 1,600 in the main Sunday school which means that about some 3,600 to 4,000 people attend Sunday school regularly every Lord's Day as a result of the visitation program that we have followed through these years.
Also growing out of the work of the Emmanuel Baptist Church has been a great Christian education program; kindergarten through the twelfth grade full school program plus four-year Bible College and Seminary work. Preachers are being turned out who have gone all over the country and the foreign fields, also putting great emphasis on the visitation program which has been so greatly used of God in this place.
Dr. Tom Malone Pontiac, Michigan May, l962
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
In the original Greek New Testament the article the is found three or four times in this verse: "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and in the fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers."
"And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing DAILY with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." Acts 2:42-46.
We begin to find some words in the book of Acts which are tremendously important - the word "daily", the expression "from house to house."
"Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church DAILY such as should be saved. Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." - Acts 2:47; 3:1-6.
"Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the taw, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone." - Acts 5:34-38.
Now here are two expressions I want you to notice very carefully this morning. There wasn't much persecution, not too much trouble, not too much problem involved until a lame man got healed at the gate Beautiful. That has always been the case. You really won't get into the battle, you won't get involved very much until you try to get somebody out of darkness into the light. There really won't be much problem, much persecution until you as a Christian become a soul winner and your church becomes a soul-winning church, then things will begin to happen.
Now after they got the lame man healed, the Christians were enamoured with the gate Beautiful. Here is a great contrast. Here is a beautiful gate that represents the church structure. People came to see it. It is said that that gate, made of Corinthian brass, was probably worth many scores of thousands of dollars.
But here are two Christians who were not concerned about the gate Beautiful. Their concern was about a man who had been at that gate day after day, week after week, year after year. One leader after another has gone by, one rabbi after another, one preacher after another, one Christian after another, but not one thing had ever happened. Here are two Christians who said, "Bless God, let's see that something happens today!"
The lame man looked at Peter and John, then said, "Give me an alms." You see, he had an imaginary need and a real need. His imaginary need was that he needed money; his real need was he needed God. Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." Up he came. Miracles took place, prayers were answered. Something happened, something unusual, extraordinary.
The problem today in many of our churches and with much of our ministry is, there is a lot of preaching, lot of talking, but not much happening that is from God. So it caused a commotion when this man really got healed and leaped and walked up and down the little narrow streets of Jerusalem. They said, "That is the same fellow who sat at that gate all these years, whom nobody could do anything for. Here two of these disciples of Jesus got him saved and healed and on his feet." Now when that took place, trouble began. Blessings began but trouble also began.
Now a good man - I don't know how good he was; he was quiet on a lot of things - but good Dr. Gamaliel said, "I would like to speak to you about these two fellows." Now notice what he said:
"Refrain from these men, and let them alone : for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought." - Acts 5:38.
Now that is one thing we need to get straight. If our program, if our work be of men, God says it will come to nought.
Notice the next thing:
"But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." - Acts 5:39
We had better decide this morning, brother, whether what we are doing and the way we are doing it is God's work and God's program: whether it is of God or whether it is of men. Let us read on!
"And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." - Acts 5:40,41.
I am glad this is in here. So many of the Lord's people today are down in the mouth, they are under the juniper tree. I never could understand why Elijah got under the juniper tree, but he did; and many of God's people are under there today. Elijah, after his greatest victory, got down in the mouth; he got a persecution complex; he had a nervous breakdown; he was gripped with fear, he despaired of his life. He said, "I am the only one, and I am being so persecuted I might as well die." So there he sat under the juniper tree absolutely useless. Many other Christians and many other preachers are right there today.
Many preachers come to our place to see us and to visit the school and church, etc., and I dare say that only one out of ten ever has a word to inspire anybody. Most of them, when you ask, "How are you getting along, brother?" When they get through, you would give a thousand dollars if you hadn't asked. "Oh, not so good, Brother Tom." Some say they are holding their own. Some say, "Well, we are fighting the battle." Most of them have a persecution complex. They are without inspiration. They are not seeing much happening and they are discouraged and under the juniper tree.
Not this group of Christians who have just been beaten and commanded to speak no more in the name of Jesus, departing from the council, patting one another on the back and rejoicing and saying, "Thank God! Isn't it wonderful we are in this work for God and able to suffer for Him!"
They departed from the council, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
Now here are eighteen words and this is what I am going to talk about:
"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." - Acts 5:42.
I do not believe there are eighteen words in the New Testament for soul winning and for church building that could possibly be more important than these eighteen words: "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
Now it is absolutely inconceivable to me that God would not make in His Word plain and clear how this job could be done. So many people are so concerned about learning a lot of other things, that they forget to learn the most important thing I think the Bible teaches on the matter of soul winning and church building and reaching people for Jesus Christ.
He Wondered if That Barber Were a Christian!
A man in my church runs a service station, a little short, stocky, heavy-set man. He used to use tobacco. We don't believe that good Christians ought to use tobacco. We don't have any Sunday School teachers who use it; we don't have any deacons who use it. We never let a church officer serve who uses tobacco. We don't spend all of our time preaching on it. There are a lot of things worse; there are certainly a lot of things better. But I was preaching along, and every once in a while while I am preaching I just reach out and pat something on the back a time or two. And I did on the matter of cigarettes and smoking. Oh, this fellow had been using cigarettes most of his life. He had been smoking a long time.
Two or three days after that he was in a barber shop where one of our folks barbers and he was all down in the mouth, and looking as if he had lost his last friend. This barber said to him, "Les, what is wrong with you?"
He said, "Well, I will tell you. I haven't smoked a cigarette in four days, and I am having an awful time. I am having a lot of trouble within me about it."
He didn't say anymore. The barber went on cutting his hair. In a few minutes he said, "I am going to tell you one thing. When I get to Heaven, if I find that Peter and James, John and Paul, and those fellows used tobacco, I am going to kick Brother Tom right where it will do the most good, I don't care if we are in Heaven"!
He got the victory over cigarettes. Well, this spring he took his vacation. He went to his old home place in Arkansas. He said, "I want to look up one of my old buddies that I used to drink with, a lost man who needs to be saved. I want to find him and get him saved while I am here in the old home town."
He went to a barber shop where this fellow had been a barber for a good many years he asked one of the barbers, "Where is so and so?"
"Well, to tell the truth, he hasn't been in for a week. He has been on a week's drunk."
He said, "Where does he live now?"
He told him where he lived. He went to the home and the fellow met him. Les Turner told me about him. He said, "The fellow came to the door and all he had on was a pair of shorts and they were dirtier than the ground itself; a week's growth of beard; he smelled like the very saloon itself." And he went in the home and spent two or three hours with him, poured some black coffee down him, got him on his knees for about forty-five minutes, got him saved.
Two or three days later Les went to the barber shop and there he was, back at work. He asked him between cutting people's hair to go back in the barber shop behind the partition. They got down and back in the barber shop had about thirty minutes more of prayer. After a while Les came out and said to the other barber, "I want to ask you, are you a Christian?"
The barber said, "Yes, I am a lay-preacher, in fact. For four years I have been preaching as well as barbering." He said, "Why do you ask me if I am a Christian?"
Les answered, "Because here is a man who has worked in this shop with you every day for four years and you have not won him to Jesus and according to his testimony, not one time have you ever spoken to him about his soul." This fellow who had just gotten victory over his cigarettes and had been really witnessing and soul winning, said to this other barber who was a lay-preacher, "When folks do not witness for Jesus, it makes me wonder whether or not they are Christians."
And it makes me wonder how in God's name a genuinely born-again child of God could have no interest in a soul-winning program. Most people are playing church. The average Christian today is interested in church unity and a man-made program, but not God's program. There are not many seminaries today that would literally practice what the Bible teaches on the matter or soul winning.
I went down to Corpus Christi, Texas, a few weeks ago to preach in a Bible conference. I got there late at night; I had a cancellation of a flight or two and had a lot of trouble getting there. Twenty-four hours I was on the road, even though I was flying. When I got there they said, "Brother Tom, you are to stay in a home with seven other preachers. There will be eight of you in one home." Now I will stay anywhere. It doesn't make any difference to me. It just happened I hadn't been put in a home in twelve or fourteen years. And I thought, with seven other preachers there won't be much time to he alone, not much time to pray, meditate and think. And I thought, "Maybe this is not so good."
But one of the richest experiences I ever had in my life was being put in the home. The folks were from North Alabama where I was raised. The man was a deacon and his wife, Mrs. Cagle, was raised around Haleyville, Alabama. I have never met anybody who was a more wonderful soul winner than that deacon's wife - a mother, with just as much to do as any of you women. She said, "Brother Tom, we don't take a lot of pains with the home. A girl comes once a week to clean. That is about all it gets. I am on the go all the time." She took me over to the telephone desk and showed me two or three notebooks of names and addresses, with phone numbers. She said, "I just work at it every day."
One day she went out and won five ladies to the Lord. The way she did it was every time she won one, she called the preacher and said, "Preacher, I have found another one; I want to bring him or her to your office." She won five in one day.
Mrs. Cagle, with big tears running down her face, told me and another preacher, Brother Jim Cunningham from out in Lincoln, Nebraska, as she was driving along the street toward church, "Right there in that house I learned one of the most tragic lessons I have ever learned about soul winning. I was out this certain day going from house to house witnessing to people. I had had a wonderful day. About three o'clock in the afternoon I finished up in that house and I decided to go home. I had been at it for hours and was tired; I think the Lord was saying to me, 'Go on a little longer.'" She said, "I am going home. I am tired."
The next morning she started where she had left off. She knocked and a little eight-year old boy came to the door. She asked, "Is your mother home?"
The little boy said, "No, Mamma is not home. She went to the hospital last night. Lady, are you a Christian? Do you know how to pray?"
And she said she was.
The little boy said, "Lady, if you know how to pray, will you come in and pray for my mamma. Last night my mamma took poison."
Mrs. Cagle said with a broken heart she went in the room, got down on her knees and prayed with the little eight-year-old boy. She found what hospital the lady was in, got in the car and drove as fast as she could go, praying every inch of the way, "0 God, give me another chance. Give me another chance."
When she got to the hospital, the woman was in a coma. This good Christian woman, this deacon's wife, this mother, this housekeeper, this woman who was as busy as any woman could be, said she sat all afternoon by the bed and prayed, "0 God, if she ever opens her eyes one time; Lord, if You will ever give her her mind back one moment, I want to win her. I want to win her. God, give me the soul of this woman."
Night came and the sun went down. All night long she sat in that room, all one night she waited, begged God; but the woman never regained consciousness. She died, as far as she knew lost, and is in Hell today. And that good woman who has won many people to Jesus said, "I missed a golden moment when I could have won her to Christ."
God have mercy! God only knows today the golden opportunity of this great hour the churches have to win souls to Jesus Christ.
A lot or people say, "Brother Tom, don't you think it is more difficult today?" It may be. I do not really know. It may be. Folks of our church this summer got to talking about it getting harder, the hour getting darker. Maybe it is. As I thought about it I said, "Now is the time we had better do something about it."
Listen, if my church ever convinces itself that they are not going to see people saved and baptized and walking the aisles for Jesus every Sunday of the world; if my church convinces itself that it is too hard to win people, then we are out of business. We have the same Gospel, the same Bible, the same Holy Ghost. We have ten thousand times more equipment than the churches ever had.
I said, "We will just see how hard it is."
On Sunday morning, July 9, I said to the good folks of our church, "Let's see if we can win fifty people to Jesus this week, in one week not in the services. We count that nobody comes forward unless they come as a result of personal work in the home. Let's see if we can win fifty this week."
I took a young preacher, met him every morning of the world and Sunday afternoon and for seven days I and this young preacher went from house to house. The Lord helped me win seven. Two ladies won seven. And the workers of our church, with the method I have on my heart this morning, in one week's time, July 9 to July 16, this summer won fifty-five people to Jesus Christ. Two weeks later, we had received forty-two members into Emmanuel Baptist Church as a result of it. Last Sunday, Labor Day, when hundreds of people were gone; many people were on vacation, a week end of travel, at the night service eight men and women and young people were baptized and united with Emmanuel Baptist Church on the poorest week end in all the year.
God has a means and a method and a way. If God's people see it, it will build a church; it will get people saved.
Notice something about this church. It grew. They didn't talk about holding their own and defending the faith. A lot preachers have a teaching complex. I know a lot of missionaries who go to the mission field to be faithful. That is well and good. Everybody ought to go; they ought to be faithful. But there is something more to this business than being faithful. I believe God expects every Christian to be a soul winner, I don't care who they are.
When a man tells me, "I am a Bible teacher. I don't go much for evangelism," I put one eye on him and watch him awful close. There is something wrong, I don't care what your gift is. A caretaker ought to be a soul winner. Sunday School teachers ought to be soul winners. Deacons ought to be soul winners. Housewives ought to be soul winners. The trouble is, we have kind of lowered our standards to suit the age in which we live. We talk about how hard it is, how much confusion there is, how much darkness there is, how many problems there are, and we are not getting the job done.
Here is this church. It grew. There are numbers mentioned in the book of Acts. Some folks say, "Well now, Brother Tom, I am not much to talk about numbers." Well, the Holy Spirit did. The Holy Spirit said there were 120 in the Upper Room. Some over-pioused preacher would have said, "Well, I don't believe in numbers. I don't know how many were at prayer meeting." The Holy Spirit said there were 120 who prayed. The Holy Spirit said three thousand got saved on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit said that at another time there were five thousand men besides women and children. The Holy Spirit said there were multitudes of believers, both men and women. The Holy Spirit gave emphasis to the fact that the church was a growing church.
And God is displeased with a church that is not on the move and growing for God. Surely that church is not on the right foundation, not carrying out the program of God.
Now that church grew. They didn't talk about holding their own. They grew and reached people. They didn't have any P. A. systems, no telephones. They didn't have Sunday School buses, or Sunday School literature. They never had any tape recorders. Everything this generation emphasizes you have to have, they had none. Do you know what they had? The power of the Holy Spirit. Thirty-two times in the book of Acts you find one word, the secret of it - witness, witnessing. They got the job done because they went out to win souls for Jesus Christ.
Somebody says, "Well Brother Tom, what will work in one place won't work in another." That is not true. What God said in His book will work anywhere. It will work in a country church; it will work in a city church; it will work in a Catholic community; it will work in a Jewish settlement. What God says will work is the only thing that will work, and work everywhere. "Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Now this is the Bible program.
I don't know how you feel about it and I don't argue about it - God knows I don't. I am sure I don't have the wrong attitude about it, but I learned something I believe with all of my heart. New Year's day a few years ago I was reading the first chapter of the Book of Psalms. I went to my study, locked the door, put my Bible down in a chair, got down on my knees and begged God to put His hand upon my life, When I read the first Psalm and came down to where it said "and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper," I asked myself the question, "What does that mean and what is God talking about?" He talked about the man who delights himself and meditates in the Word of God day and night. And I said, "God being my helper, I will make this book the textbook of my church. I will make it the textbook of my life. If I never read any other books as long as I live. I will go to this Book every day of my life until God speaks to my heart and God gives me a message for my own soul." "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
I began to notice something. I saw the caretaker of my church go around with a big can under one arm picking up Sunday School literature every Monday morning. He took it out in the back alley and burned it every Monday morning. As I went to people's homes, good fundamental, Bible-believing people like you folks sitting right here, I saw way down yonder on a magazine rack somewhere with a Ladies Home Journal and a Saturday Evening Post, a Sunday School quarterly down under the bottom of the rack that hadn't been touched one time since it was taken home. And I thought, "Something is wrong with that." I watched the caretaker burn it and I saw people put it on the magazine rack and never touch it until they got the next quarterly, then they would throw the old one away.
One Sunday morning quite a few years ago I got up and made a shocking announcement which some folks haven't gotten over yet: "There will never be any Sunday School literature in this church again henceforth now and forever, world without end. Amen." And there hasn't been.
Some folks say you can't have a growing church and build a Sunday School without Sunday School literature. That is not so. When the Bible is honored, God will honor the people who honor it. He said He would. God said He reverenced His Word above His own name. What could be better than the Word of God? You say, "For children?" Yes, for any body. God's Word must be honored and given the pre-eminence if we expect God's blessing.
Now God's Word has a definite plan for reaching people for Christ. My daughter will be nineteen year's old the l0th day of October. Emmanuel Baptist Church will be nineteen years old the 25th day of October. When my married daughter was a baby two weeks old she was taken in a bassinet and put down at the end of one of the little rows of chairs in the building when we started the Emmanuel Baptist Church, and she has never missed a Sunday in Sunday School and church in nearly nineteen years unless she was ill and providentially hindered. From the time she was a two-week-old baby through her entire childhood she has never seen one Sunday in her church that somebody didn't walk down the aisle and publicly confess Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. That is the way God wants it.
We have the twisted, warped idea that a revival is something you have every once in a while. God's standard and God's norm according to the Bible is a state of revival and souls being saved all the time. That is what God wants.
First of all, I get out of this text that these Christians were persistent. It was an everyday business. One of the worst things that has happened to us is that many, many professing Christians have gotten the idea that living for Jesus is a Sunday business.
We read here, "Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Now they were after people all of the time. In the First Baptist Church of Danville, Illinois, and the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Pontiac, there ought not be one day, Monday through Sunday, that people are not out to win souls to Jesus Christ. From the Emmanuel Baptist Church somebody, sometimes several people, go every single day of the week, bar none, in house-to-house work.
I had a wonderful experience. Quite a few years ago, when we first went into this program, I and one of our superintendents went into a home. We went into the back of the house, in the kitchen, right on the back. A lady by the name of Mrs. Scott was in the kitchen and this Sunday School superintendent stopped and engaged her in conversation about the Lord. I went on through the house into the living room and engaged her young son in a soldier's uniform in conversation about the Lord.
After dealing with him. I went back to the kitchen. Just as I got to the kitchen this Sunday School superintendent and Mrs. Scott were getting up off their knees. She was drying the tears on the corner of her apron. You could tell what had happened to her. Mr. Williams, the Sunday School man, said, "Brother Tom, Mrs. Scott just trusted the Lord as her Saviour." We had prayer together and I shook hands with her. We got in the car and as we were driving away I said to Mr. Williams, "How many visits do you suppose have been made in that one home?"
He said, "I don't know, but I will find out."
We had taken a survey and from these survey cards we found there were five or six people in that home. They hadn't been to Sunday school. There was an Intermediate: so we turned his name over to the Intermediate department. There was a Junior; we turned that over to the Junior department. Here was this adult; we had put her name in the Adult department. We found we had visited them every week, but they had not been to Sunday School. We counted them as part of the ones we were responsible for. Somebody would go from the Junior department. Somebody would go from the Intermediate department. Somebody would so from the Adult department. Every week several visits were being made in that one home, where nobody was coming to Sunday School. And this lady got saved.
Mr. Williams went to the superintendents of the departments where there was someone out of that home in those various departments, and came back and said, "As best I can tell, with the day you and I went, we made in that home the FORTIETH visit. Thirty-eight visits didn't win a soul. Thirty-nine visits didn't win a soul. It took FORTY visits to win one soul to Jesus Christ.
Who in this building will stand up this morning and say the soul of a woman for whom Jesus died is not worth forty visits from Christian people? We at our church kind of believe in worrying people! You know one thing about Emmanuel Baptist Church - nobody ever looks at it kind of indifferently. They either love it and admire it, or they hate it so bad they would like to burn it to the ground. We aggravate people sometimes.
I have had people call me on the phone and say, "Brother Tom, (or Mr. Malone), don't let anybody else come to my house." I don't do any threatening and I try to act very meek, but I don't make any promises.
Somebody asked Dr. Roberson, "When should you throw somebody's name away on a card and quit going?"
He said, "When they die, or when they get saved and baptized, you won't have to go so often, or when they move to another state. I don't think there is ever a time when you quit going to somebody, the same person."
Last Sunday morning I looked at a man I have been preaching to for I don't know how many years. As I looked at the man who has sat through one revival meeting after another in our church and has not been saved, I made up my mind that I was going to go to him at least once every Sunday, right in front of everybody, get him by the hand, ask him to come forward every Sunday at least one time till Jesus comes, or he is driven away, or he gets saved. I am not just going to do nothing about it. I have been to his home again and again; dozens of people have talked to him. He is just as regular as the church members - I am going to go to him at least one time every Sunday of the world until something bursts loose. I am not going to stand and look at him, preach to him and have him look at me, then die in sin and go to Hell. FORTY visits to one home.
You know, something wonderful happened. We tell our folks, "If you go out and things don't go well, don't come back and throw cold water on the situation. If you get dog bit, or snake bit, or kicked off the porch, or the door slammed on your nose, or cussed out, or something like that, don't be telling about it." We say, "If something good happens, tell about it."
One night in the worker's meeting one lady said, "Brother Tom, something good happened tonight I think you ought to know about. We went to this home tonight and as we started to knock on the door, the door opened and a man said, 'Come in ladies. I have been looking for you. Sit down right over there.' We sat down, and we hadn't said a word yet. The man stood up in the middle of the floor and said, 'Now ladies, I want to talk to you a minute. Now ladies, I wouldn't give you a nickel for television Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. But on Monday night I love the programs that are on. And EVERY Monday night for twelve months somebody from Emmanuel Baptist Church has come pounding on the door. They come in and they all say the same thing. They all have the same thing on their minds. And for one solid year, without a single exception, I have had my favorite programs interrupted every Monday night.' And he was just preaching away. And he said, 'Now ladies, I will tell you what I will do. I want to make a deal with you. If you will leave me alone for one Monday night, I will bring the old lady and the children, and so help me God, I will come to that church.'"
Thank God, we are worrying some people!
You know most people are so tactful about this business they don't make any contact. I studied one full semester when I was in school about how to approach a Hindu and lead him to Jesus. And I lived a Christian for about twenty-one years before I ever met one face to face to talk to him, then he couldn't understand one word I said and I couldn't understand a thing he said. I met him down in Egypt out on the porch of a little shack where I slept one night. I tried to witness to him but didn't get to first base. I thought, "What good did it do me to study for eighteen weeks on how to win a Hindu to Jesus? People are dying in sin all over our neighborhoods, and right across the street from us, who never have been witnessed to one time."
Persistent you have to keep at it.
Now notice who did this work. Here is where you get into something a little bit touchy. The average deacon today, the average Baptist church member, thinks this is the preacher's business. They think that laymen, men and women who are not in the ministry, are not as responsible to win souls as preachers are.
Some years ago I believe God spoke to my heart from Ephesians, chapter 4 the verses which say, "And he gave some, apostles: and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry" (vss. 11, 12). It dawned on me that my responsibility is to get Christian people perfected or equipped for the work of the ministry.
People used to come to me in my church and hand me cards, good people who are still with me today. They were always handing me somebody's address. The most laborious thing some or my church members ever did was to write down a name and address and give it to Brother Tom. They would rare back just like they had just hung a new star somewhere, look as pious as Lucifer before the fall, and with all the dignity and piety in the world, say, "Brother Malone, I want you to call on Mr. and Mrs. So and So," and give me a card. Poor little old Brother Tom went at it sixteen hours a day. The most laborious thing they ever did was write out a name and address. "We are going to send our errand boy on this now; our little preacher is going to call on them, and he is going to win them."
One day Dr. Louis Entzminger sat me down in a chair, took this verse in the book of Ephesians and said, "Tom, you are not doing your people right. I want to show you something." He showed me some proof from the verse. And so I got loaded, and the next time some Christian came to me and said, "I have a card," I said, "Thank you," and put it in this pocket. Then when they started off I said, "Wait just a minute. I have a card. I want you to go see Mr. and Mrs. So and So."
Somebody said, "Do you play cards in your church?" I play cards all the time. We just don't do much else but play cards. We play get-acquainted cards. We play absentee cards, we play sick cards, we play survey cards. We just play cards all the time. I learned from that verse and from that old man of God that it is just as much the responsibility of a deacon to win souls to Jesus as it is a preacher. I wouldn't give you a nickel for a deacon who didn't show an interest in the visitation program.
I will tell you something else: I wouldn't give you a nickel for a Sunday School teacher who wouldn't go visiting. Somebody said, "If I had a standard like that, I couldn't get enough people to teach." That is not so. The higher the standards, the more workers you will get. I wouldn't give you a nickel for a deacon, a church officer, a Sunday School teacher who couldn't take part in the visitation program. This is everybody's business. There are a lot of folks who say, "I don't have the ability." Thank God, it doesn't take ability.
I had the joy last Sunday night to baptize my forty-seven year-old brother. For twenty-six years he and I were separated. I was telling my brother the other day how, when I went to Bob Jones College in Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1935, they used to do something at the college. All the freshmen would gather in one room, and the administration would find out what you were able to do. They said, "Now, if you can play a horn, play it; if you can give a reading, give it; if you can play a piano, play it; if you can sing a solo, sing it. Whatever you can do, do it."
I was the freshest of the freshmen, right off the red-clay hills in North Alabama. When that announcement was made, it scared me to death. I have never been more frightened.
I went back down to the room where I had been assigned, room 14 of Bachelors Hall, a little bitty old frame building in Cleveland, Tennessee, got down on the bottom bunk, stuck my head under the top bunk, took my little black Bible my mother had given me and opened it up and cried. I said, "Lord, if you have made a mistake, I am going to be so embarrassed You called me to preach, I thought, but folks are talking about talents, about recitations and playing and singing and giving readings. I can't do any of that. What on earth will I do?"
I hadn't been saved long. I don't know why, but I tore out a piece of tablet paper and I wrote out the words of John 3:16, folded it, put it in my pocket, and went to the meeting.
That afternoon when two o'clock came and they had the freshmen together and they called the name of Thomas Lloyd Malone from Russellville, Alabama, I walked up on a little stage, stood behind a microphone, unfolded the piece of paper and read, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," and walked off. It must have been an embarrassing situation because nobody said a word. People must have thought, "What kind of talent did that display, reading from piece of tablet paper John 3:16?"
That is all the talent I have ever had. I don't believe God expects you to be a genius and have talents and ability to be a soul winner. I believe if you get your heart in it, you will see what Jesus saw; I believe you will see from the Bible what God wants a Christian to do.
Everybody in this room can be a real soul winner. O God, put it on our hearts! God, burden us! God, help us to put it first! God, help us to leave off all of the foolishness and frivolity and everything that is not related to it. God, help us to put it first.
"Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ," is certainly for preachers. Paul said, "I taught you publicly and from house to house." Most preachers spend ninety-five per cent of their time on the "publicly" and very little on "from house to house." That is the reason we don't get the job done. That is the reason our Church is are not strong, and our people are not soul winners.
This Sword of the Lord Publishers Pamphlet was used here by permission of Dr. Shelton Smith, publisher of the Sword of the Lord Newspaper. For more information on Sword of the Lord, contact them directly at: Sword of the Lord Publishers PO Box 1099 Murfreesboro, Tn 37133